If you haven’t read my previous article, I suggest you do that before reading this one.
Pillars of Speed
Hey guys, I’m back with more Remember, Remember level design insights. Today I wanted to talk about a few design pillars I set for myself when designing these maze boards. Each of these is aimed at creating an environment where the player can learn quickly and create an overall enjoyable experience for the player be it their first or fifth time playing the maze.
1) Introducing Mechanics, Fast
The biggest factor in a player enjoying a game is understanding. If the player has no idea what’s going on in a game, they’re likely to give up long before they find enjoyment in it. The two biggest factors to introduce to the player were the tracking monster and one-way walls. I had to find a way to introduce the mechanics quickly and in a manor the player could understand and enjoy.
Arguably the largest change in this maze variant is the monster. In the previous maze, the monster would wander (semi-intelligently) through the maze, while the monster in this maze tracks the player down, following their every movement. This can be a difficult change to communicate since the monster spends most of its time hidden in the dark. To alleviate this issue, I added tracking arrows to show the path and direction the monster is moving. As the player moves they leave behind more tracking arrows, indicating that the monster will mimic their movements. The arrows are also visible through the darkness allowing the player to watch as the monster moves towards them, on the hunt. The arrows are shown right from the beginning, indicating something is coming for the player and they should probably not wait around to find out. Finally, to help the player visually understand that the monster’s behavior is different, different monster art will likely be employed to denote it as a different character.
The other large change is the one-way walls. Even more than the monster, this mechanic will need a well designed visual representation to help the player understand its function. The darkness treats the other side of the wall as a standard wall and will not show light through it. The light in the darkness helps the player determine not only what their surroundings look like but where they are allowed to move. The fact that it does not shine back through the wall indicates that once a player has stepped through a one-way wall there is no going back. This is something I wanted the player to understand immediately so I added a one-way wall between the player and the first movement they make in the entire maze. The sooner they grasp the concept, the sooner they are able to complete the maze within the time limit.
2) Map Identity
While designing the initial paths for each board, I knew I needed each board to have its own distinct flow of movement. Since all three boards will use the same art style and mechanics, it’s important to give them distinct paths. Some have long winding paths, some paths are cyclical, and another has a central corridor that is that is the main mode of quick movement. By creating these distinctive movement patterns for each board, the maze becomes more interesting to learn and play multiple times.
3) Feel clever moments
As I stated in my last article, I started the design of each board for the maze with a “main path” that would be obvious and help guide the player to each victim. But just following this path will generally not leave a lot of room for error. These paths were then enhanced with shortcuts in the form of one-way walls. These shortcut paths are not meant to be as obvious and reward the player for exploring a bit outside the beaten path. They are meant to give the player a sense of accomplishment (or “feel clever moments”) when finding and utilizing them to enhance their time.
Gotta Go Fast
That’s all I’ve got for this week, folks. Again, I’d love to hear your opinions on the game and my design. I’m looking to improve and the best way to do that is to talk through it with others! I hope you’re looking forward to the full game as much as I am. I’m having so much fun designing and programming this game and I can’t wait to show it to you all! Until next update, happy holidays!